Keeping Yourself and Your Pets Safe When Out Hiking During the Hunting Season

Just because it’s hunting season that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors and waste a beautiful day when you want to take a hike with your pet. While obviously no one wants to intentionally harm you or your pet, it would be irresponsible not to recognize that there are some hazards and potentials for accidents to happen during hunting season.

There are several pieces of knowledge you can arm yourself with so you can ensure that your hike can be safe and smooth and problem-free. Here are the most important tips to keep in mind to stay safe on the trails while the hunters are stalking deer.

Know Hunting Season in Your Area

If you want to get out of the house and go for a hike during hunting season, you’re going to want at least the basic ins and outs of what Connecticut’s hunting season looks like. The 2019 hunting dates for Connecticut break down as follows:

Game birds:

  • Pheasant: Jan. 1st – Feb. 28th, October 19th – Dec. 31st.
  • Chukar and Hungarian Partridge: Jan. 1st – Feb. 28th, Oct. 19th – Dec. 31st
  • Ruffled Grouse: Oct. 19th – Nov. 30th
  • Quail: Oct. 19th – Nov. 2nd
  • Crow: Jan. 12th – Mar. 30th (Mon – Sat), Aug. 10th – Oct. 11th (Wed, Fri & Sat), Oct. 19th – Nov. 30th (Wed, Fri & Sat)

Small Game Mammals:

  • Gray Squirrel: Jan. 1st – Feb. 28th, Sept. 2nd – Dec. 31st
  • Cottontail Rabbit and European Hare: Jan 1st – Feb. 28th, Oct. 19th – Dec. 31st
  • Snowshoe Hare: Jan. 1st – Feb. 28th, Nov. 16th – Dec. 31st
  • Woodchuck: Mar. 15th – Nov. 15th


  • Coyote: Jan. 1st – Dec. 31st
  • Red & Gray Foxes: Jan. 1st – Feb. 28th, Oct. 19th – Dec. 31st
  • Raccoon & Opossum: Jan. 1st – Jan. 19th, Oct. 19th – Dec. 31st


  • Spring Turkey (State Land, Private Land, Landowner): Apr. 24th – May 25th
  • Fall Turkey Firearms (State Land, Private Land, Landowner): Oct. 5th – Oct. 31st


Deer bow hunting:

  • Private Land (All zones): Sept. 15th – Dec. 31st (January 1-31 in Zones 11 and 12)
  • State land bow hunting only areas: Sept. 16th – Dec. 31st
  • State Land: Sept. 16th – Nov. 29th, Dec. 25th – Dec. 31st

Deer Shotgun – State controlled areas:

  • No Lottery “A” Season: Nov. 20th – Nov. 29th
  • No Lottery “B” Season: Nov. 30th – Dec. 10th

Deer Lottery:

  • Archery only controlled hunt lottery: Sept. 16th – Dec. 31st
  • State Land and Controlled Hunt Lottery, “A” Season: Nov. 20th – Nov. 29th
  • State Land and Controlled Hunt Lottery, “B” Season: Nov. 30th – Dec. 10th

Hikers should be on extra alert during the white-tailed deer season. This is when you’ll find the greatest number of hunters out. Second to this would be wild turkey season in the spring.

It’s also important to know exactly where the wildlife areas that will be popular amongst hunters are located. On top of this, many private landowners also authorize and encourage hunting on their property, and even public hiking trains can have hunters close by due to their close proximity to private land. It’s important to know that the areas in which you want to walk your pets in are safe throughout the year.

Keep Your Pet on a Leash

The last thing you’ll want is for your pet to wander off, regardless of whether or not they’re outside pets. It’s always best to take advantage of all methods available, after all, we’re trying to prevent the worst. There are some great options available, from PetSafe containment systems, or making sure to take leashed potty breaks or using a tie-out cable. Regardless of whether or not hunting at night is prohibited, it’s always best to make sure your dogs and cats are secured at all times anyway, just to be on the safe side.

Don’t Let Dogs Chase Wildlife

The last thing you want during hunting season is for your pup to run after something that’s potentially about to get shot. This is another keen reason for keeping your dog on their leash when out in the wilderness during hunting season, and especially so if your dog is prone to running away and chasing after other animals.

Outfit Your Dog in an Orange Safety Vest

Outfitting your dog in a bright orange colored vest is one of the best ways to keep your animal nice and visible to hunters. The hunters will be wearing the same blaze orange colored vests themselves, so it’s a color they’ll be on the lookout for. If you absolutely can’t get a blaze orange safety vest, then make sure to, at the absolute very least, outfit your dog in some other bright color, making absolutely sure to steer clear of earthy tones. White too, should be avoided, due to its potential resemblance of a white tailed deer, along with red or blue if it’s during turkey season.

Outfit Yourself in an Orange Safety Vest

Obviously if you’re going to dress your pet in a bright orange safety vest, then you absolutely should too. All of the rules above especially apply to you, including avoiding earth tones, white and red and blue during turkey season. While finding a blaze orange vest for your pet might be somewhat difficult, depending on where you live, there’s no excuse for not being able to find one for yourself. This is one of the most important things you can take advantage of to make yourself stand out and stay safe while out hiking during hunting season. 
Just a friendly reminder when going out on a day hike regardless of the hunting season or not always good to carry water, snacks, a compass, pocket knife,  safety tool or pepper spray. Happy hiking and stay safe.